Saturday, June 1, 2013

Draft Profile: Tony Snell's Leaning on Limitations

In the run-up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, the BDD staff will be profiling several projected lottery picks and other draft entrants. Next up: Tony Snell.

Tony Snell: Catch. Shoot. Repeat. (USA Today Sports)

Position: Small Forward
College: New Mexico
Current Draft Express Prediction: No. 5 in second round, No. 35 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans Hornets).

Synopsis: New Mexico had an earlier exit from the NCAA Tournament than most people predicted, but with the program's profile being higher than it has been in recent history, now was the right time for Tony Snell to enter the NBA Draft, especially since there was no guarantee the Lobos would have as much success if he returned for his senior season.

The most outstanding number to come out of Snell's combine workout was his 4.9 percent body fat measurement. Already slim at 6'7", 198 pounds, he is a bundle of muscles that can pass as a small forward in a non-power conference like the Mountain West, but his slight frame will be an issue at the NBA level if he doesn't add a significant amount of weight. Failing that, Snell works more as a shooting guard in the pros. He worked primarily off-ball with the Lobos, exhibiting a near-perfect and replicable shooting form with a textbook follow-through and a high release point that, along with his height and long arms (6'11.5" wingspan) would make it hard for opposing NBA two-guards to alter his shot. Pairing Snell with a willing facilitator would allow him to have an immediate impact on the game, particularly if he adapts quickly to the longer range of the NBA 3-point line. In his final year at New Mexico, Snell earned a 56 percent true shooting percentage by hitting 45.2 percent of two-pointers, 39 percent from long range and 84.3 percent from the free-throw line. He translated this into 16.3 points adjusted per 40 minutes. Given the chance to shoot, Snell has a quick and true release, making him a useful shooter if nothing else. 

Scouts are skeptical about Snell's ability to defend and rebound against higher caliber opponents, specifically because of his slenderness. Rebounding is particularly concerning, as he only averaged 3.7 defensive rebounds adjusted per 40 minutes. This will remain an issue if he is used as a forward. Questions also arise when speaking about Snell's ball-handling and pull-up shooting. Improving both will allow him to create his own shot, adding a new dimension to his game and making him more valuable to which ever team takes him in the draft. Used as is, Snell is primarily a catch-and-shoot threat. Whether standing still or receiving the ball on the run, as he did often when coming off picks as a Lobo, Snell is effective at finishing plays. He thrived in this role at New Mexico, executing 76 percent of his offensive over three years in catch-and-shoot situations, according Synergy Sports Technology.

Snell could certainly fall farther than his draft projection, though if he makes noticeable improvements in any of his weak areas -- either before the draft or throughout his rookie campaign -- he could be a steal for the right team. 

Quote to note: "[At New Mexico] I didn't get to show much of my rebounding and my ball-handling." - Snell on possible confinements of the college system in which he played.

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